International Women’s Day: It’s About Choice Now
Today is March 8th. International day where we celebrate women in all that they are and all they bring to society. I don’t know what this year’s theme is but I thought I’d add my voice to what this day means to me and what I think it means to women across the globe.
Having a whole day dedicated to celebrating you is an exquisite feeling; think about your birthday or any other party where you are the focus. The attention is on you; people scramble to make you feel special and wanted.
In Cameroon March 8th has reached such heights that it’s a full-on party filled with parades, parties across towns and banquets all aimed at honoring women. We even get our own fabric. You see most Cameroonian women wearing that fabric in custom-tailored styles with their hair done and nails manicured to perfection; it is a joyous occasion indeed.
This year, as the day neared I got to reflect on what being woman means to me. I elected choice as this year’s theme for myself. Some may find it odd but it speaks to me.
We have come so far that most of us now get to design the type of life we want for ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, Cameroon is still a very patriarchal society where the man dictates the rules and the woman just follows suit. I don’t subscribe to this way of seeing things. I believe in partnership not dictatorship, I believe in both parties being breadwinners and I believe that being a woman doesn’t negate my opinions nor does it make me a supporting cast in the life I will choose to share with a man.
I’m not sure those are radical ideas but they are certainly the offspring of years of owning my humanity and womanhood in the process. The choices are quite simple (or complex) depending on where we fall on the womanhood spectrum. Our wombs don’t have to carry babies, if we choose. Marriage is not an end all be all, if we choose. Our hands do not have to solely be destined to housework, if we choose and life can exactly be how we design it, if we choose.
The aforementioned are not bad choices at all and I don’t mean to create an either or situation. You can be a married woman who decides (with her partner) not to have children, or a mother who is perfectly okay with being single. You can be the greatest homemaker with a booming career or the lady who hires help to aid in running her house. This is an extremely small sample of what is possible and what choices are available to us. Most of these would have been unacceptable a hundred years ago, and some still very much are. March 8th is a reiteration that our power is back on our hands, women’s hands. My definition of feminism also includes willingly deciding what we want to be and how we want to run our lives.
“Slut”, “bossy”, “whore”, etc… are merely labels devised to put us back in our places when our choices were predicated by men. Who cares if a woman is comfortable enough with her sexuality that she decides to sleep around or that she has no qualms about saying exactly what is on her mind at the risk of being labeled “man-like”; seriously who cares?
The beauty is, unlike my mother and grandmother; I get to craft my own definition of womanhood devoid of what I do not want; refusing to define myself through the eyes of anyone else but me. Labels will always be assigned to me and expectations of how I’m supposed to act and behave will probably never go away but, I can choose to shut them out and dance to the beat of my own drums. I encourage you to do the same, what does your womanhood look like? What actions can you take to stand in your woman power and take back the decision-making process? There are no right or wrong answers just truths and personal victories, so tell me; I want to hear it all. Today I celebrate you, women, who inspire me every day, and I raise my glass to choice. Happy International Women’s Day!